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June 28, 2017

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The Gambia to receive three Navy patrol boats from Taiwan: MOFA

Taiwan will donate three Navy patrol boats to The Gambia to help the African diplomatic ally beef up its naval defense capability, especially in cracking down on smuggling, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.

The three Cheng Kung-class patrol frigates (成功級巡邏艇) will be joining another four Dvora class fast patrol vessels (海鷗級巡邏艇) Taiwan previously sent to the African country, said Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生), director-general of MOFA's Department of African Affairs, during a regular news briefing.

Hsu said that the patrol vessels are important because illegal activities along the Gambian coastline are a big problem. The West African nation used to lack an appropriate marine defense capability until Taiwan came for help, he added.

Taiwan previously donated the four retired Navy patrol boats to The Gambia in 2009.

Hsu said yesterday that one of the four Dvora-class fast patrol boats was seriously damaged and deemed too costly to repair by Taiwan's military personnel who were previously sent to The Gambia to examine the damaged vessel.

Taiwan decided to make the new donations too maintain the African ally's naval defense capabilities. The matter was discussed between President Ma Ying-jeou and top Gambia government authorities during Ma's state visit to Africa this April.

The armed small patrol boats are being refitted by the Ministry of

National Defense before being shipped to The Gambia, Hsu added.

But since the Cheng Kung-class patrol frigates that will be given away are currently stored on an offshore island, Hsu said Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who is currently on a state visit in Taiwan, will not be able to personally inspect the batch of vessels.

Instead Ma will give President Jammeh a model of the patrol frigate today when the two leaders attend a joint military academies graduation ceremony in the southern city of Kaohsiung, the MOFA official added.

It is Jammeh's ninth visit to Taiwan in his 17 years as president of the African country. He called Taiwan his "second hometown."

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